Inaugural IoD Women in Business Lunch a success

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The first Institute of Directors Devon and Cornwall Women in Business lunch has been so successful that a second is already in the pipeline.

The lunch was based around the debate ‘Nurture or Nature’ – about whether successful women are a product of their environment or genetically pre-programmed for success. It took place in Plymouth on Wednesday (November 19th) as part of National Enterprise Week and on Women’s Enterprise Day.

About 60 professional women attended from Cornwall and Devon as well as other Institute of Director members. The debate was led by Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One and Convergence Partnership Offices for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and Wendy Purcell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Plymouth.

Ms Kelemen, who has a long and successful private and public sector background, said: “This debate, which was held on Women’s Enterprise Day, was on a subject close to my heart. Some research suggests that it’s genetic to be a great entrepreneur. Others say you have to be born with a tolerance for high risk while some say that it’s your environment that nurtures entrepreneurs.

In reality, it is a bit of both, and always about hard work, commitment and allowing yourself to be nurtured by others. “Today there are still challenges for women in balancing business and family and also in believing in themselves. Confidence is key to success. As Director of the Objective One Partnership in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly I saw several successful projects supporting women of all backgrounds into work, upskilling, or running their own businesses. Helping all people to reach their full potential is at the heart of regeneration.”

Professor Wendy Purcell, one of only 15 Women Vice – Chancellors in the UK’s 125 universities, said: “Quoting Sir Harvey Jones, ‘Leadership is the ability to elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people’. This requires a vision, passion and an open dialogue with others.” When asked about tips for success, Professor Purcell explained: “It’s not just nature, not just nurture – it’s more about maximising opportunities. Success is about getting out of your comfort zone and looking for people who you can work with. Success is developing key partnerships, and creating new ideas – its enterprise and innovation, problem solving … a sense of vision and confidence – knowing that you can make a difference.”

Institute of Directors Devon and Cornwall Branch Chairman Richard Ayre said: “This was an exciting and fascinating gathering with plenty of food for thought. The IoD is proving itself to be a powerful force in nurturing entrepreneurship in both men and women, and I look forward to the next in these dynamic events. A second IoD Women in Business lunch is now being planned for six months’ time.